Records that Sound Best on the Right Early Pressing

Rachmaninoff – Symphony No. 2 / Previn

More of the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

More TAS List Super Discs

  • You’ll find excellent Double Plus (A++) sound throughout this vintage British EMI pressing of Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2
  • A long term resident of the TAS Super Disc list, and one I never realized was anything special until my stereo got a lot better about ten or fifteen years ago
  • There are a few marks that play, but EMI’s from this era always seemed to have one problem or another, so this is not surprising – there’s simply no way around these issues if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
  • This recording of the work is guaranteed to put to shame any Heavy Vinyl pressing of this music you may own

(more…)

Simply Red / A New Flame – A Personal Favorite

More Simply Red

More Personal Favorites

  • This excellent UK import copy of A New Flame boasts Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides are amazingly clear and transparent, with present and breathy vocals throughout
  • The key qualities for a record from this era are richness, smoothness, naturalness and Tubey Magic — with those, and clarity and presence, you have pretty much everything you need for a top quality pressing
  • Simply Red’s third (and in our opinion their BEST) album – this is where it all came together for the band, with “It’s Only Love” and “A New Flame” being the two best tracks the group ever recorded
  • Their cover of “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” on side two sounds FANTASTIC

This outstanding UK import pressing has some of the best sound we have ever heard for the album, Simply Red’s third and in my opinion their BEST.

This is where it all came together for the band, especially in the writing department. These songs about love (few popular songs are about anything else when you stop to think about it) harken back to the days when there was such a thing as “Blue-Eyed Soul Music,” a cross between real soul music and the standard radio-friendly pop song. Hall and Oates, Smokey Robinson (not exactly blue-eyed but definitely the right sound); the music of these artists combines pop craftsmanship with real soul.

I love this album. Every track is good; the slow ones are the best but unlike their previous records the uptempo tracks are taken at a more modest and listenable pace. The two tracks that open side one are two of the best the band ever recorded.

(more…)

Bad Company – Straight Shooter

More Bad Company

More Rock Classics

  • If you’re playing this one good and loud, you’ll feel like you’re in the room with the boys as they kick out these classic riff-driven jams
  • Take it from us, it is not easy to find a copy that’s as right as this one, with the weight, balance and energy this music needs to rock
  • 4 stars: “Vocalist and songwriter Paul Rodgers wrote two acoustic-based rock ballads that would live on forever in the annals of great rock history: ‘Shooting Star’ and the Grammy-winning ‘Feel Like Makin’ Love.'”

The sophomore jinx is nowhere to be found on this album. In fact, you could make a pretty good case that this is actually a better album than their debut. The best pressings of this Bad Company classic have ROCK ENERGY that cannot be beat. (more…)

Art Pepper – Winter Moon

More Art Pepper

More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Saxophone

  • Winter Moon debuts on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER on both sides of this original Galaxy pressing
  • The sound here is rich and Tubey Magical, which is the only way this music makes any sense on record
  • You’d be hard-pressed to find a copy that’s this well balanced, big and lively, with wonderful clarity in the mids and highs and Pepper’s sax front and center
  • Rosiny string texture is key to the best pressings — the ones that have the highest-resolution strings with the most sheen tend to do the best in our shootouts
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Pepper sounds quite inspired performing seven strong compositions highlighted by Hoagy Carmichael’s ‘Winter Moon,’ ‘When the Sun Comes Out’ and a clarinet feature on ‘Blues in the Night.'”
  • If you’re a fan of Art’s, this is an excellent title from 1981 that belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1981 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

(more…)

Deep Purple – Made In Japan

More Deep Purple

More Recordings Engineered by Martin Birch

Want to find your own shootout winner? Scroll to the bottom to see our advice on what to look for.

  • Get ready to rumble! This UK copy boasts INCREDIBLE Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on all FOUR SIDES – remarkably quiet vinyl too
  • A phenomenally well-recorded album that’s a true Demo Disc on an exceptional pressing such as this
  • Turn it up and you will hear sound that is incredibly powerful and natural with amazing presence, energy and weight down low
  • Marks in the vinyl are sometimes the nature of the beast with these Classic Rock records – there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
  • Rolling Stone: “They’ve done countless shows since in countless permutations, but they’ve never sounded quite this perfect.”.
  • If you’re a fan of the band, this title from 1972 is clearly one of their best
  • The complete list of titles from 1972 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

Having just played a stack of copies of Made In Japan, I’d put the album right up there with the best recorded live albums of all time. In terms of Tubey Magic, richness and naturalness — qualities that are usually in very short supply on live albums — I would have to say that the shootout winning copies of Made In Japan would be very likely to take Top Honors for Best Sounding Live Album of All Time.

Yes, the sound is that good.

Machine Head Live? That would not be far off, and the fact they brought Martin Birch along with them all the way to Japan in order to engineer a live album that was only supposed to sell to the Japanese market (!) could not have been more fortuitous for us audiophiles.

Machine Head is clearly one of the best sounding hard rock records ever made, and Made In Japan, its successor, sounds more like a top quality studio production than any live album I’ve ever heard. It’s shocking how clean and undistorted the sound is. Equally shocking is the fact that it’s every bit as big and lively as a Hard Rockin’ Live Album should be.

This is a combination the likes of which we have never heard.

(more…)

Humble Pie / Performance – Rockin’ The Fillmore

More Humble Pie

More Peter Frampton

  • This original pressing on the custom A&M label is ROCKIN’ with outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER on all FOUR sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Performance is one of the best sounding – perhaps even THE best sounding – Hard Rock concert albums we’ve ever heard
  • Engineered by the legendary Eddie Kramer, what other live rock record sounds this good?
  • Marks in the vinyl are sometimes the nature of the beast with these Classic Rock records – there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… [O]ne of the classic double-live albums of the ’70s: a two-LP set from a band that were earning a reputation as in-concert monsters, grinding out a living on a circuit that brought them from coast to coast in America… this was heavy, improvised blues rock where live moments trumped the studio… “
  • A Member of the Prestigious “None Rocks Harder” Club

Can you imagine if Frampton Comes Alive sounded like this? If you want to hear some smokin’ Peter Frampton guitar work from when he was in the band, this album captures that sound better than any of their studio releases, and far better than Comes Alive on even the best copies.

Grungy guitars that jump out of the speakers, prodigious punchy deep bass, dynamic vocals and drum work — the best pressings of Rockin’ The Fillmore have more live FIREPOWER than any live recording we’ve ever heard. Who knew?

(more…)

Steppenwolf – Self-Titled

More Steppenwolf

More Debut Albums of Interest

  • An outstanding copy of Steppenwolf’s debut with Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout – we guarantee you have never heard these songs sound remotely as good as they do here (or your money back)
  • Rich, clear and dynamic, this copy has the bass these rockers need – this is undeniably the right sound for this bluesy, hard-chargin’ music
  • Includes killer hits “Born To Be Wild” and “The Pusher,” both featured in the 1969 movie Easy Rider
  • 4 stars: “…a surprisingly strong debut album from a tight hard rock outfit… The playing is about as loud and powerful as anything being put out by a major record label in 1968…”
  • If you’re a fan of the band, this vintage pressing of their 1968 classic belongs in your collection
  • The complete list of titles from 1968 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
  • And it appears to be the case that we will never tire of linking to this guy who liked one of the worst sounding audiophile records we have ever played, made by probably the worst audiophile label of all time, Analogue Productions

(more…)

Roxy Music – Avalon

More Bryan Ferry

More Roxy Music

  • This excellent UK pressing boasts Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Copies that are exceptionally transparent, with three-dimensional depth and a wide soundstage, present this music the way it was meant to be heard
  • Credit Rhett Davies with creating the sonic space to allow the singers, instruments and subtle studio effects to be balanced and integrated from front to back, side to side and top to bottom
  • 5 stars: “Ferry was never this romantic or seductive, either with Roxy or as a solo artist, and Avalon shimmers with elegance in both its music and its lyrics.”

Records like Avalon get people (often known as audiophiles) to spend wads and wads of money in pursuit of expensive analog equipment good enough to bring this wonderful music to life in their very own listening rooms.

The album rewards a stereo with many of the qualities that audiophiles prize most highly when selecting equipment — spaciousness, transparency, clarity, detail, depth, soundstaging, speed, high frequency extension and the like.

The mix is as dense as any we know. Only the best copies have the ability to show you everything that’s on the tape. Credit must go to the amazingly talented Rhett Davies for creating the space to put so many instruments and sounds in.

We would add to that list presence and energy, along with warmth, fullness, and lack of smear on the transients. Whomp and rock and roll power do not seem to play much part in separating the best from the rest, although it’s nice when the bottom end is big and solid.

(more…)

Paul McCartney and Wings – Wings at the Speed of Sound

More Paul McCartney

More Beatles

  • An outstanding pressing of Wings’ follow-up to Venus and Mars, with Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • This copy has a “cinematic” quality – it’s just plain bigger, with more depth to the soundfield, and more energy than we remember from the last time we did the shootout
  • The big hits, “Let ‘Em In” and “Silly Love Songs,” as well as minor gems such as “Beware My Love,” are outstanding here, with good body and a smoother, more natural, but still extended top end
  • The right stampers are key on this title, and these are definitely the right ones
  • “A full-band effort, where everybody gets a chance to sing, and even contribute a song.”

The better copies such as this one had the qualities that really make the songs come to life and give you a taste of the old McCartney magic. (more…)

Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy

More Led Zeppelin

More Top 100 Titles

  • Wall to wall, floor to ceiling Led Zeppelin power – this copy delivers like you will not believe, or your money back
  • A Better Records Top 100 album (along with 4 other Zep titles), 5 Stars in AMG and a True Zeppelin Must Own Classic
  • The Tubey Magical acoustic guitars heard here should be a wake up call to every audiophile that trying to remaster this album is just not in the cards
  • 5 stars: “Jimmy Page’s riffs rely on ringing, folky hooks as much as they do on thundering blues-rock, giving the album a lighter, more open atmosphere…”
  • If you’re a fan of the band, this title from 1973 is clearly one of their best, and inarguably one of their best sounding
  • The complete list of titles from 1973 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

This copy has the kind of BIG, BOLD ROCK SOUND that takes this music to places you’ve only dreamed it could go. The HUGE drums on this copy are going to blow your mind — and probably your neighbors’ minds as well.

And what would a Zep record be without bass? Not much, yet this is precisely the area where so many copies fail. Not so here. The bottom end is big and meaty with superb definition, allowing the record to ROCK, just the way you know Zep wanted it to.

The vocals too are tonally correct. None of the phony upper-midrange boost that the Classic Records reissue suffers from is evident on this copy. The louder Robert Plant screams the better he sounds and the more I like it. The Classic makes me wince. (more…)